Douglas County, Kansas


We recruit, train, and support volunteers to advocate for children under the protection of the court who have experienced abuse and neglect with the goal of strengthening families in Douglas County, Kansas.

Every year in Douglas County, Kansas, dozens of children ages 0-18 are removed from their homes and placed under court protection for their own safety. Some of these children are victims of violence, psychological torment, and sexual abuse. Others have been neglected or abandoned. They are confused, frightened and uncertain about their future. Many are placed in foster care. Douglas County CASA is dedicated to making sure these children get the attention they deserve. With the help of specially trained volunteers, Court Appointed Special Advocates, we advocate for the best interests of these vulnerable children. Douglas County CASA helps children find safe, permanent and loving homes.

Our Staff

Susan Allen
Volunteer Supervisor

A native Kansan and KU graduate, Susan served several years as a CASA volunteer before becoming a Advocate Coordinator in 2012. Prior to joining the CASA staff, she worked in a variety of capacities in state government including policy liaison for the Senate Minority Office and the Governor’s office and the Deputy Secretary of Appointments. Her work at CASA has allowed her to see how state policy decisions have a direct impact on the lives of children and families at the local level. Working with so many incredible volunteers and staff at CASA, who are dedicated to making other people’s lives better, has been the highlight of her career. When not working, Susan and her husband spend time with their five children and eight amazing grandchildren.

Susan Anderson
Volunteer Supervisor

Susan grew up in Topeka before heading south for a BA in history from Baylor University and a JD from the University of Oklahoma. After moving to Lawrence with her husband in 1996, she worked in the not-for-profit sector including serving as the Director of the Douglas County Community Health Improvement Project and as the Director of Education at Plymouth Church. When not working, she enjoys volunteering in the Lawrence community, hiking, learning Spanish and reading non-fiction. Her very favorite activity though is being Mom to her four children. She is excited to be a part of the CASA team providing support and hope for children in need of care.

Amy Buchele-Ash
Volunteer Supervisor

Amy’s background is in law and social work. Prior to coming to CASA, she worked in a variety of settings, including as a home study provider for families adopting children with special needs for Kansas Children’s Service League, as an assistant research professor at the Beach Center on Families & Disability at the University of Kansas, and as an assistant revisor at the Kansas Revisor of Statutes Office. Amy is passionate about advocating for children and families so that policymakers and service providers are more responsive to their needs. CASA has been an ideal place for her to utilize and expand her knowledge and skills. When she’s not working, Amy enjoys traveling with her husband and spending time with her two adult daughters.

Margie Carr
Volunteer Supervisor

Margie grew up in suburban Kansas City and has been living in Lawrence since her days as an undergraduate at KU. She majored in secondary education and stayed at KU to earn a master’s degree and a doctorate. Before coming to CASA in 2015, most of her professional work was in education, and she has taught at every level from pre-kindergarten to the post graduate level. After staying home to raise her three unbelievable children and working as a freelance writer, she returned to the real world, which she defined as having to get dressed every day. While the work CASA does to advocate for the community’s most vulnerable population can be emotionally draining, working with a talented group of coworkers and an exceptional group of volunteers keeps her buoyed.

India Forbes
Social Work Practicum Intern

India grew up in Lawrence and graduated from Lawrence High School. After working for local businesses, she decided to start her education journey by attending Johnson County Community College and transferred into the University of Kansas's social welfare program with a focus on families and mothers during the postpartum period. She will receive her Masters in 2025. When not attending school and working with the amazing staff and volunteers at CASA, she spends her days with her 2.5 year old son and fiancé, hiking, gardening, visiting museums, and the occasional family jam session.

Carol Huettner
Administrative Assistant

Carol brings administrative skills honed over the years in the business, legal, and nonprofit fields, and is delighted to be a part of a hard-working group dedicated to the betterment of the lives of vulnerable children of Douglas County. In addition to mingling with the corps of stalwart volunteers, staff members, and Board members who make this agency’s mission a reality for these children, Carol also enjoys crewel embroidery, gardening, rabbits, reading, horses, and the occasional opera.

Brooksie McCarty
Community Engagement Coordinator

Brooksie grew up in Hutchinson and graduated from Friends University. Previously working at CASA from 2011-2016 as both the administrative assistant then a volunteer supervisor, she is grateful for the opportunity to return to work with the remarkable people here and delights in being able to call Kansas home once again. She enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter, experiencing all four seasons, reading fiction, and drinking seasonal beverages. ‍

Scharla Paryzek
Volunteer Supervisor

A Northwest Arkansas native, Scharla moved to Lawrence in 2012. She worked as a teaching assistant at KU while completing her MA in History and a graduate certificate in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. After graduating, Scharla became involved in the nonprofit sector, primarily through Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence, Kansas, where she served in leadership roles from 2015 to 2020. Scharla joined Douglas County CASA, Inc. as a Volunteer Advocate in 2018, where she found a passion for child welfare and advocacy. She transitioned from volunteer to staff member in September 2020 and enjoys collaborating with co-workers and volunteers on difficult case issues. Scharla lives in Lawrence with her husband, two dogs, and two cats.

Erick Vaughn
Executive Director

Erick has served as a licensed social worker with a specialization in administrative and advocacy practice for over 15 years. Throughout his career, Erick has always supported programs that serve children. Coming to Douglas County CASA as their new Executive Director in July 2019 has felt like coming home, bringing together his experiences related to program design and evaluation, early childhood, mental health, substance abuse, and child welfare. Erick lives in Lawrence with his wife and daughter.

Casey Williams
Program Director

Casey received his Ph.D. in educational psychology in 2019 and master’s in educational psychology in 2016. He has worked in curriculum, assessment, and instruction previously and started his own consulting businessthat focuses on data analysis and research for a range of non-profits, start-ups and non-governmental organizations. Casey received his undergraduate degree from The University of Kansas in 2012 in psychology and wanted to use his experience to help the community in Douglas County. Casey lives in Lawrence with his wife and two sons.

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Our Board

Executive Committee

Lew Hanna
Audra Fussell
Vice President
Kurt Goeser
Nicole Hite-Heleniak
Loretta Severin
Past President

Board Members

Sally Ryan Bosworth
Board Member
Chris Chartrand
Board Member
Leticia Gradington
Board Member
Emily Grant
Board Member
Tom Karasek
Board Member
Neal Quitno
Board Member
Michael Steinle
Board Member

Ex-Officio Board Members

Jill LaPoint
Ambassadors President
Hon. Jean F. Shepherd
Honorary Board Member

Change a life with CASA

At any given time, there are 165 children from Douglas County in the child welfare system due to abuse and neglect. Help us help those children who are still waiting for a CASA volunteer.

Stay in the Loop!

Join our email community to receive periodic email updates, newsletters, and insider information about our work.